Friday, February 5, 2010

"Driving While Brown" Should Not Be a Crime: Take A Stand Against Racial Profiling

"Racism and racial discrimination have profoundly and lastingly marked and structured American society."
~ U.N. Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

In 2003, the Department of Justice issued a fact sheet on racial profiling that identifies many of the concerns shared by communities around the country, whose members may find themselves subject to discrimination because of their appearance, national origin, or other identifying characteristics. Racial profiling harms not only communities but also federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, which may be distracted from their real work ensuring the safety and security of the communities under their jurisdiction.

This fact sheet, available here as a PDF, addresses guidelines on racial profiling set forth by the Department of Justice in 2003. While these guidelines are an important step in the process of eliminating racial profiling, they still have loopholes and omissions that allow for some of the very behavior that the guidance is intended to regulate.

The 2003 Department of Justice Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Law Enforcement Agencies:

  • Allows for profiling based on religion and national origin;

  • Includes loopholes that allow profiling at borders in the name of "national security;"

  • Doesn’t apply to all federal law enforcement activity;

  • Isn’t enforceable; and

  • Doesn’t consistently apply to state or local law enforcement agencies working in cooperation with federal agencies or receiving federal money.

To sign a petition urging the Department of Justice to strengthen their 2003 guidelines on racial profiling, please visit the Rights Working Group webpage, available here.

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